You’ve Earned It likes to feature stories about women and men who have been brave enough to follow their dreams. We hope that stories like these could inspire you, strike a chord within you. We all have different interests and talents, but reading about someone else, who is just like you and like me, may just inspire you to reach out for your dream or put that idea into practice. The only thing holding you back is you. So grab a cuppa, have a read, and let’s see how this YEI reader reached for her dream.
Sister Elizabeth Pitout is a palliative care nurse for Abundant Life. Elizabeth has at least 41 years’ nursing experience. Born in Zimbabwe and growing up in Cape Town, Elizabeth always had a dream of becoming a nurse. She describes that when she was in primary school, she developed a passion for nursing. In Grade 4, she joined the St John’s Ambulance brigade to help out at rugby games on Saturdays.
After her schooling, Elizabeth did her nurse training at Victoria Hospital for 3 years where she headed up a ward. She then left and did industrial nursing for an additional 2 years before getting married and moving to the Free State where she continued doing part time nursing for 15 years – working night duty. On her return to Cape Town, a friend enticed her to go back to Victoria Hospital where she continued to do sessional work in the day ward and minor ops theatre.
In 2009 while working at Victoria Hospital, Elizabeth saw an advertisement about palliative care. At the time she had no clue what they were planning, but knew about it as both her mom and dad passed away due to cancer. “I wanted to give back, as I knew how important palliative care was for my parents.” she added. Elizabeth spoke to Dr Cupido about getting involved. “It was so ironic because they happened to be, at that very time, looking to employ a palliative care nurse.
Elizabeth started with Abundant Life in 2010 where she completed her palliative Medicine training through Foundation for Professional Development and St Luke’s Hospice in December 2011. She remembers starting with 35 patients. After 7 years with the organization, this has grown to over 260 patients. She explains that at the beginning Victoria Hospital was a little resistant to palliative care, but this has changed tremendously. It has now reached the stage where doctors will call her, asking for advice with their patients. A palliative care footprint has now been endorsed in the hospital and more people are getting to know what it’s all about.
Elizabeth now heads an extremely committed team. Her compassion and professionalism has resulted in Palliative Medicine penetrating the hospital at all levels. This achievement was not without sweat and tears. Elizabeth Pitout is Abundant Life. Her patients call her their “Angel of Life”.
Elizabeth has been described as “an inspiration to the job and the public health care system”.
Due to her compassion and commitment to terminally ill patients, Elizabeth was a perfect choice for the Western Cape’s Lead SA Hero in May 2014.
One of the biggest highlights for Elizabeth is seeing patients having a good death, free from pain and getting the best care at the same time. She also values her fellow colleagues who are like family to her. And – she loves her job!
To learn more about Abundant Life, click here
Article by: Eric Watlington